North Korea–South Korea football rivalry

Korean Derby

Korea Republic v. Korea DPR, World Cup qualifying match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, 22 June 2008
Other names South vs North
Locale East Asia
Teams Korea Republic, Korea DPR

This article is about matches between the North Korean and South Korean national teams in association football. It covers women's football as well as men's.

Despite tensions between the two states, a sense of shared Korean nationhood has resulted in Koreans in both countries supporting the other state's football teams, except of course when the two teams meet. Football commentators on the Seoul Broadcasting System have "excitedly" supported the North's team in its matches against other countries, and North Korean players such as Hong Yong-Jo, Mun In-Guk or Jong Tae-Se "are stars south of the border".[1] There is also support for the South's team in the North.

Matches have not always been free of tension, however - for example, North Korea withdrew from any international competitions from 1993 for 5 years, and their home matches against South Korea had to be moved outside North Korea in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification.

The two Koreas fielded a joint football team at the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship, an experiment which has not been repeated since.[2]


As of May 2014, the North Korean men's national team is ranked 137th in the world by FIFA, while the women's team is among the best in the world, ranked 9th. The South Korean men's national team is ranked 55th, while the women's team is ranked 18th.[3][4]

South Korea has tended to dominate the North in men's football, while the opposite is true in women's football. Both genders combined, North Korea has beaten the South twelve times, and South Korea has beaten the North eight times, but the North's men's team has only won once, as has the South's women's team. Nine games between the two countries have been played in the South, but only one in the North - a match between the men's teams in Pyongyang in 1990. The greatest victory by either side occurred when the North beat the South 7-0 in the first ever encounter between the countries' women's teams.[5][6]

Notable Matches

Jong Tae-Se, North Korean national team striker, is reported to be a "star south of the border".

1994 FIFA World Cup qualification

Heading into the final qualifying match on October 28, 1993, South Korea was one point behind Japan (who defeated South Korea in the penultimate qualifier) and Saudi Arabia for one of the two Asian spots for the 1994 World Cup, while North Korea had already been eliminated. Goals from Ko Jeong-Woon, Hwang Seong-Hong and Ha Seok-Ju in the second half gave South Korea a 3-0 win in the teams' final qualifying match for the 1994 World Cup. With Japan allowing a tying goal against Iraq late in its match, South Korea advanced to the 1994 World Cup on goal difference ahead of Japan.

Following their final match of the last round of the AFC qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, North Korea withdrew from international football for five years, and did not again attempt to qualify for the World Cup before the 2006 edition.[7]

2002 FIFA World Cup

During the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which South Korea co-hosted with Japan, and in which North Korea did not take part, the South's team reportedly had "supporters in the North",[7] and North Korean newspaper The People's Korea published North Korean Football Association chairman Ri Gwang Gun's congratulations to his South Korean counterpart on the South's "great success in the World Cup", which he described as "a striking demonstration of the advantages and tenacity of the Korean nation to the world".[8] Glyn Ford, an expert on East Asia, has noted that when North Koreans "can't support North Korea they'll support South Korea. They'd prefer South Korea to win against anyone else, unless they're playing them. They're cheering for Koreans."[9]

2010 FIFA World Cup

In 2008, on two occasions, a 2010 World Cup qualifying match between the two countries, due to be played in Pyongyang, had to be moved to Shanghai when authorities in the North refused to allow the South Korean national anthem to be played in Kim Il-sung Stadium, or the flag of South Korea to be flown. (North and South Korea have never granted each other formal diplomatic recognition.)[9][10] When the teams met again the following year for a return game in Seoul, and the South won 1-0, the North's football association explained the defeat by accusing the South of having deliberately given food poisoning to several of its players.[11]

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for which both Koreas qualified for the first time, it was reported that "at bars in central Seoul you could find groups of South Koreans cheering the North as loudly as their own team".[12] South Korean captain Park Ji-sung stated: "I will watch the North Korean games. North Korea and South Korea speak the same language and actually we are the same country."[13] In 2011, a poll revealed that an overwhelming majority of South Koreans backed the North's football team in their encounters against other countries; over 70% would support the North if it were to play against the United States, while only about 7% would support the U.S. in such a match.[14]

All encounters between North and South

The following results are from FIFA's website.[15]


The two countries' first encounter was a goalless draw in Bangkok in 1978. They have met, so far, fifteen times, resulting in a single victory for the North (in 1990), seven victories for the South, and seven draws. Five games have been played in the South (four in Seoul and one in Jeonju), but just one in the North: the North's lone victory in Pyongyang in 1990. The North's single victory was by 2-1; the South's biggest margin of victory was by 3-0, on two occasions (1993 and 2005).

From 1978 to 1992

FIFA reports the following encounters, without further detail:

1994 World Cup qualifiers

Both Koreas advanced to the final round of the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. They met on October 28, 1993, for what was to be their last encounter for over a decade. The South beat the North 3-0 and qualified, while North Korea finished last of the final round, prompting its temporary withdrawal from international football. Over the following two years, North Korea experienced the death of its leader, Kim Il-Sung, and the beginning of a severe famine.[7]

October 28, 1993
South Korea  3 – 0 North Korea 
Ko Jeong-Woon  49'
Hwang Seon-Hong  53'
Ha Seok-Ju  75'
Qatar SC Stadium, Doha
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: Ion Crăciunescu (Romania)

2005 East Asian Football Championship

Both Koreas advanced to the final tournament of the 2005 East Asian Football Championship, along with Japan and the P.R. China. The encounter between the two Koreas was a goalless draw. It was their first encounter since 1993.[16]

4 August 2005
South Korea  0 – 0  North Korea
World Cup Stadium, Jeonju
Attendance: 27,455
Referee: Ghahremani Mohsen (I.R. Iran)

2005 Korean liberation commemoration match

Ten days later, on August 14, 2005, the men's teams of both countries met in Seoul for a friendly match, on the initiative of South Korea's Unification Minister Chong Dong Yong, to celebrate "the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation" from Japan. A match between the women's teams was held two days later.[17] In the men's match, the South beat the North 3-0,[18] while in the women's match the North beat the South 2-0[19]

14 August 2005
South Korea  3 – 0  North Korea
Chung Kyung-Ho  33'
Kim Jin-Yong  35'
Park Chu-Young  67'
World Cup Stadium , Seoul
Attendance: 65,000 (est.)
Referee: ?

2008 East Asian Football Championship

Both Koreas advanced to the finals group of the 2008 East Asian Football Championship in Chongqing, People's Republic of China. Their encounter was a draw.[20]

20 February 2008
North Korea  1 – 1  South Korea
Jong Tae-Se  72' report Yeom Ki-Hun  20'
Olympic Sports Center, Chongqing
Attendance: 20,000
Referee: Hiroshi Takayama (Japan)

2010 World Cup qualifiers

In the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers, North Korea advanced to the third round by defeating Mongolia 9-2 on aggregate, while South Korea was an automatic qualifier for that round, by virtue of being a top seed. The two Koreas were drawn together in group 3, from which they both qualified, eliminating Jordan and Turkmenistan. In round four, the two countries were again drawn together, in group B, and again topped their group together, thus both qualifying for the World Cup. In both rounds, as mentioned above, North Korea's home matches were moved to Shanghai due to the North refusing to allow the South's anthem and flag to appear in its home stadium. The first three games were draws; the South won the fourth, amidst accusations of food poisoning from the North.

26 March 2008
North Korea  0 – 0  South Korea
Shanghai Stadium , Shanghai
Attendance: 20,000
Referee: Saad Al Fadhli (Kuwait)

22 June 2008
South Korea  0 – 0  North Korea
World Cup Stadium , Seoul
Attendance: 48,519
Referee: Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh (Malaysia)

10 September 2008
North Korea  1 – 1  South Korea
Hong Yong-Jo  64' (pen.) report Ki Sung-Yueng  69'
Hongkou Football Stadium , Shanghai
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Muhsen Basma (Syria)

1 April 2009
South Korea  1 – 0  North Korea
Kim Chi-Woo  86' report
World Cup Stadium , Seoul
Attendance: 48,000
Referee: Abdullah Al Hilali (Oman)

2015 EAFF East Asian Cup

9 August 2015 (2015-08-09)
17:10 UTC+8
South Korea  0 – 0  North Korea


North and South Korea's women's teams have met thirteen times, their first encounter being a 7-0 victory for the North in Beijing in 1990. North Korea has won eleven of these encounters, while the South has won just one, and there has been one draw. The South's lone victory was by 1-0, in Jeonju in 2005. The North's inaugural 7-0 victory remains its largest, although it subsequently beat the South by a margin of three or more goals on four occasions. Three games have been held on South Korean territory, and none in the North.[6] Because sports in the North are directly funded by the government, whereas the South's team suffers from lack of funding, player development and fan support, the North has held the edge in the series.

Early 1990s

The two Koreas met on two occasions in the early 1990s, prior to North Korea's temporary withdrawal from international football in 1993. FIFA reports the following encounters and results:

2002 Asian Games

North and South Korea met at the 2002 Asian Games, with the North defeating the South and going on to win the competition.

9 October 2002
North Korea  2 – 0  South Korea
Ri Hyang-Ok  26'
Jin Pyol-Hui  36'

2003 AFC Women's Championship

North and South Korea were drawn together in group A in the first round of the 2003 AFC Women's Championship, which also served as a qualifier for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. The game ended in a draw, but both Koreas advanced from the group. The North went on to win the Championship, and the two countries qualified for the World Cup.

16 June 2003
North Korea  2 – 2  South Korea
Yun Yong-Hui  39'
Jin Pyol-Hui  77'
report Lee Ji-Eun  19'
Hwang In-Sun  43'
Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok
Attendance: 1,500
Referee: Bentla D'Coth (India)

2004 Olympic qualifiers

The two Koreas met in Hiroshima in April 2004 during the qualifiers for the 2004 Summer Olympics women's football competition, for which neither of them ultimately qualified. The North won the match with a four-goal margin.[21]

26 April 2004
North Korea  5 – 1  South Korea
? report ?

August 2005

On August 4, 2005, the two Koreas' men's teams were meeting in the final tournament of the 2005 East Asian Football Championship, in Jeonju, in the South. On the same day, a match between the two countries' women's teams was held, albeit not as part of the tournament. While the men's match resulted in a draw, the women's resulted in South Korea's first (and so far only) victory over the North.

4 August 2005
South Korea  1 – 0 North Korea 
? report

2005 Korean liberation commemoration match

On August 16, 2005, the women's teams of both countries met in Goyang, in the South, for a friendly match, on the initiative of South Korea's Unification Minister Chong Dong Yong, to celebrate "the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation" from Japan. A match between the men's teams had been held two days earlier.[17] In the women's match the North beat the South 2-0,[19] while the South's men had beaten the North 3-0.[18]

16 August 2005
South Korea  0 – 2 North Korea 
report ?

2006 Asian Cup

North and South were drawn together in group B of the 2006 Asian Cup in Adelaide, Australia. They met in their final match, both still with hopes of advancing. The North won by a single goal, topping the group and advancing, while the South was eliminated. North Korea would go on to win the Cup.

24 July 2006
North Korea  1 – 0  South Korea
Kim Yong-Ae  76' report  
Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
Attendance: 300
Referee: Pannipar Kamnueng (Thailand)

2006 Asian Games

North and South Korea were drawn together in group B at the 2006 Asian Games in Al-Rayyan, Qatar. The North won the match, but both countries advanced, eliminating Chinese Taipei and Vietnam.

7 December 2006
North Korea  4 – 1  South Korea
Ri Kum-Suk  10', 17'
Kim Kyong-Hwa  12'
Ri Un-Gyong  70'
report Park Hee-young  25'

2008 East Asian Football Championship

Both Koreas qualified for the finals group of the 2008 East Asian Football Championship in Chongqing, China. The North defeated the South by a four-goal margin.[22]

24 February 2008
South Korea  0 – 4  North Korea
report Kim Yong-Ae  53', 78'
Hong Myong-Gum  68'
Ri Kum-Suk  69'
Yongchuan Stadium, Chongqing
Attendance: 25,000
Referee: Baba Sachiko (Japan)

2010 Asian Games semi finals

The two Koreas met in the semi finals of the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. A 1-1 draw led to the match being extended, whereupon two goals by Ra Un Sim enabled the North to advance to the final.

20 November 2010
South Korea  1 – 3 (a.e.t.)  North Korea
Yoo Young-A  88' report Jo Yun-Mi  45+1'
Ra Un-Sim  94', 119'

2012 Olympic qualifiers

The two Koreas were among the six teams to meet in the final round of the women's Asian qualifiers for the 2012 Summer Olympics. They played one match against each other, in Jinan, China. The North's 3-2 victory helped it to qualify in second place for the Olympics, while the South was ultimately eliminated, finishing fifth.[23]

5 September 2011
South Korea  2 – 3  North Korea
Lee Hyun-young  5'
Jo Yun-Mi  62' (o.g.)
report Ra Un-Sim  9'
Choe Mi-Gyong  28'
Hwang Song-Mi  57'
Jinan Olympic Sports Center, Jinan
Attendance: 417
Referee: Albon Teodora (Romania)

2013 East Asian Cup

The two countries met in the final round, which was a round-robin tournament between the two Koreas, Japan and China. North Korea beat the South and China, drew against Japan, and won the Cup. After its loss to the North, South Korea beat Japan but lost to China, and finished third.[24]

21 July 2013
South Korea  1 – 2  North Korea
Kim Soo-Yun  26' report Ho Un-Byol  36', 38'
Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul
Attendance: 6,530
Referee: Pannipar Kamnueng (Thailand)

2014 Asian Games semi finals

September 29, 2014
South Korea  1 – 2  North Korea
Jung Seol-bin  12' report Ri Ye-gyong  36'
Ho Un-byol  90+3'
Incheon Munhak Stadium
Referee: Jia Wang (China)

2015 East Asian Cup

8 August 2015 (2015-08-08)
17:10 UTC+8
South Korea  0 − 2  North Korea
report Yun Song-mi  22'
Ra Un-sim  52'


  1. "Korean neighbours ready for World Cup showdown", The Guardian, 31 March 2009
  2. "Koreas Expected to Send Joint Team to Beijing", Korea Times, 10 March 2007
  3. Korea DPR on FIFA
  4. Korea Republic on FIFA
  5. Korea DPR men's fixtures and results on FIFA
  6. 1 2 Korea DPR women's fixtures and results on FIFA
  7. 1 2 3 "Chosun one prepares for crucial qualifier", The Guardian, 25 March 2008
  8. "N. Korea Congratulates S. Korea’s Achievement in World Cup", The People's Korea, 30 June 2002
  9. 1 2 "World Cup will be good for Koreas", The Guardian, 19 May 2010
  10. "Clash of North and South Koreas ends all square", The Telegraph, 10 September 2008
  11. "North Korea accuses South of poisoning ahead of defeat in World Cup qualifier", The Guardian, 6 April 2009
  12. "North Korea TV viewers see World Cup loss", BBC, 21 June 2010
  13. "Park Ji-sung hopes World Cup can help unite a divided Korea", The Guardian, 28 May 2010
  14. "S.Koreans back N.Korea football team over US", The Straits Times, 9 February 2011
  15. Korea DPR fixtures and results on FIFA
  16. "East Asian Football Championship 2005 Final Competition: match sheet", East Asian Football Federation
  17. 1 2 "Inter-Korean Football Games to Be Held in Seoul on Aug. 14-16", The People's Korea, 30 July 2005
  18. 1 2 Korea DPR men's fixtures and results July-September 2005 on FIFA
  19. 1 2 Korea DPR women's fixtures and results July-September 2005 on FIFA
  20. "S. Korea Draws With North in Chongquing", Korea Times, 21 February 2008
  21. DPR Korea, East Asian Football Federation
  22. Match sheet, East Asian Football Federation
  23. "Women's Olympic Football Tournament London 2012", Asian Football Confederation
  24. "EAFF East Asian Cup 2013 final match and result", East Asian Football Federation

External links

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